Automations overview
  • 07 Sep 2022
  • 9 Minutes to read
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Automations overview

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Overview

Automations allow you to configure custom trigger-action workflows directly within your Airtable base. This will allow you and your team to save time by automating repetitive tasks, increasing communication efficiency, and reducing the overall margin of error.

Automations are scoped to individual bases and can be found next to the Share button in a base on desktop/browser versions of Airtable. Automations on our iOS and Android apps are unavailable at this time.

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Automations can only be created/edited by individuals with Owner or Creator permissions. Collaborators with Editor level permissions and below will be able to view but not edit Automations.


Triggers

A trigger is a specified event that initiates the automation. Available triggers include:

NOTE

Existing records in your base will not trigger a newly created automation. Only after you've turned your automation on, will any record that meets the new trigger condition cause the automation to run. For making big updates to multiple existing records in your base we recommend checking out the Batch update extension.


Actions

An action is a step that performs a task such as sending an email. When the trigger fires and the subsequent actions are complete, the automation is said to be executed.

There are many actions currently available:


Testing automation steps

Each step of an automation must test successfully before an automation can be turned on. In the trigger step of an automation, a test record can be chosen for use throughout the rest of the automation configuration process. Once you've set the properties, click the "Choose record for testing" button. This will open up a pop-over of any records that match the configuration of your trigger configuration. You'll be able to search for or scroll to a record and select whichever one you'd like to use as the test record.

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This is helpful, because if something does not go as planned later in the automation configuration process, then you can adjust data in the test record that you have chosen. You can also go back to the trigger configuration and choose a different test record. Always remember to retest any previously tested steps in your automation to ensure that the most recent version of your base has been captured.

NOTE

Choosing test records is not available for any action steps in Automations. However, retesting and choosing a new test record in the trigger step will typically cause a different test record to appear in later action steps. More on test records in this article.

This feature also works with Google workspace triggers, with the Google Forms trigger being one exception. For example, if you are using the "Google Calendar: When event created" trigger, you'll be able to select an upcoming event or an event that's occurred within the past 3 months to use as a test event.

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Tips to ensure proper setup

Create an automation-specific view

Before creating an automation, creating a view solely for that automation or set of automations is suggested. Take advantage of the power of filtering conditions here.

Lock a view to prevent unexpected runs

Consider locking the view and adding a note that editing the view filtering conditions could cause unintended automations to run.

Consider the trigger before creating your automation e

Consider when you want the record trigger and subsequent action to occur. Is it when a record is created, a status is changed or when all fields in a record have been populated and the record is considered 'complete'? Some ideas include:

  • A status field changed to 'Ready to send email' or other appropriate phrase for the particular action.
  • A 'Created On' field using the created time field type. Set the view filtering conditions to only include records before today. This will create a delay on when records are sent.
  • Use a form. By only using a form to create new records, all fields are added simultaneously upon submission. Ideal for automations that trigger when a record is created.
  • For a simple way to mark a record as complete, add a checkbox field.
Learn about test records

Make sure the test record you choose has a value in each of the fields needed in your automation. At the moment, usable fields are derived from the test result of the trigger. If a test field is blank, it will not be shown in the setup. More on test records here.

Learn about record IDs

Having a firm grasp of record IDs within Airtable can be very useful for Automations, especially when using the update record action.

Permissions and Automations

If your base has any field or table editing permissions that restrict editing to only specific users, you can add permissions for automations to make changes using this toggle: 360092286654Image2020-09-28at115554am.png

Troubleshooting help

Check out our article about Automations troubleshooting if you are getting stuck, finding an error in your automation, or receiving failed run notifications. 

NOTE
The individual user that toggles the Automation On is the user who will receive failed automation run notifications.


Current limits

If you’d like, you can add up to 50 automations to a base. It's important to note that automations that are turned off (inactive) still count against this limit of 50 automations.

Additionally, you can create up to 25 actions in one automation. Adding up to 25 actions in one automation may help if you find yourself getting close to the total limit of 50 automations. Where applicable, an action can use outputs from previous actions in the same automation.

Run limits

Workspace PlanAutomation runs(per month, per workspace)Automation run history
Notes
Enterprise500,000 13 years
Pro50,000 11 year
Plus5,000 16 months"Send email” action can only email collaborators on the base, not arbitrary email addresses
Free100 12 weeks“Run a script” action is unavailable
NOTE

Automation run limits are reset on the first day of each month.

Our system counts an automation “run” each time a trigger is invoked. This means that both failed and successful automation attempts will count against a workspace’s monthly run allowance.


Automation URLs

Starting on January 25th 2022, Airtable made a change to URL formatting in Automation triggers and actions. Now, the base ID (appXXXXXXXXXXXXXX) will appear at the start of the URL path. This change coincides with the recent change to include base IDs in Airtable URLs throughout the rest of product. The change in record URL format will occur in these places:

  • The url property of a record output by a trigger/action.
  • The url property of a Table or View model retrieved by the Run Script action.

This may be a breaking change if your automation makes hard assumptions about the format of a URL property (e.g. by deconstructing the returned URL into its component parts or similar). No action should be needed if your automation only uses the URL for navigational purposes. Browser navigation will continue to work for the old-style Airtable URLs via redirects, although these redirects may not be supported indefinitely in the future. If your automation constructs Airtable URLs from scratch, we recommend updating the construction logic to also include the base (app) ID.


FAQs

General

Will automations run even if nobody has the base open?

Yes. Since automations are server-side, they will run even when nobody has the base open.

Who can create / edit automations?

Automations can only be created or edited by users with "Creator" (or "Owner") permissions.

Will an automation stop running if the creator of the automation is removed from the base?
They should keep running – automations don't rely on any specific user's Airtable credentials to run. Therefore, it should keep working even if a connected account's owner is removed from the base.
Do automations run retroactively?

Only moving forward. For example, if there is a conditional trigger set up to “when field is not empty”, and then that automation is turned on, the automation will not run on previous records with a value in the specified field. Making it so a record does not meet the conditions and then meets them again will trigger the automation, however.

Is it possible to see a log / revision history of what users edited an automation?

That functionality is not available at this time.

Can the monthly automation run limit be increased?

Each billing plan has an associated automation run monthly limit. The only standard way to increase the limit is to move to a higher billing plan.

Is there a way to find/know which automations you’ve created in a specific base or workspace?

That functionality is not available at this time.

Triggers

Do automation triggers work on formula fields?

Yes, they do work. They trigger about every 5 minutes while a base is loaded due to user interactivity, and once an hour otherwise.

Why do "When a record is created" and "When a record is updated" triggers fire before I'm done editing fields?

These triggers fire as soon as the first few characters are typed by the user. We're aware that this isn't ideal, and it's on our radar to solve.

Can I make the "When a record is updated" trigger fire when a comment is added?

Comments on records are considered meta-data and can't trigger automations.

How is the test record chosen when testing a step?
  • Find Records: All matched records
  • When a record matches condition: First matching record
  • When a record is created: First record in the table/view
  • When a record is updated: First record in the table/view
  • When a record enters view: First record in the table/view
  • Google sheets row created: Last row in the sheet
  • New response Google Form trigger: Last response/row in the sheet the response is sent to

Actions

Do "Send an email" recipients have to be collaborators?
  • Free/Plus: Yes, all recipients must be verified collaborators.
  • Pro: Can email 100 unique non-collaborator email addresses a day.
  • Enterprise: No limit on the number of non-collaborators that you can email per day.

You can see your workspace's limit if you create a Send Email action on an automation.

In a digest, is it possible to render a date in a localized time zone instead of UTC?

Not directly in automations, but this is possible to do by utilizing a formula field in the manner described in this support article.

Can I apply custom formatting to a grid or list of records in an email?

Unfortunately, no. You can use "Find records by view" to apply the same sort as is applied in the view, and you can choose if you want to truncate or not truncate long field values, but we don't provide customizability beyond that at the moment.




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